VERMILLION, S.D. ― University of South Dakota officials are defending their notification procedures after a student was accused of using a cellphone to videotape women in a dormitory shower in late August and charged days later in an off-campus rape.
Daniel Hammer, 18, of Texas, has left the school. He faces a felony rape charge and a misdemeanor count related to the alleged videotaping. Hammer posted $70,000 bond after his Aug. 30 arrest and was released from jail pending an Oct. 28 court appearance.
Court documents do not list Hammer’s hometown in Texas, and USD spokeswoman Tena Haraldson said the school did not have that information. Hammer did not respond to an Associated Press message via Facebook seeking comment, and his attorney, Michael Butler of Sioux Falls, did not immediately return a telephone call.
Some students said they weren’t notified about either alleged incident, while others said it took the university more than a week to notify them of the alleged shower incident.
“There are definitely students upset about not being told right away,” Braley Dodson, a senior media and journalism major, told the Argus Leader newspaper. “One student told me she wanted to go to the store right away and get a can of Mace. They didn’t know if they had been videotaped and were afraid to shower.”
Haraldson said Hammer was immediately banned from the dorms. She said it is not the university’s practice to put out an alert after a crime is reported unless officials believe some sort of danger still exists.
“He’s innocent until proven guilty,” she said. “There was no physical contact that happened in Mickelson (Hall) that takes it to the level of assault or the level of something that would certainly rise to a greater threat to the student body. We did remove him from the dorms. We did as much as we thought we could do.”
The university is considering putting locks on dormitory bathrooms to limit access.